2010 Tour of California: The Big Picture
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Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 Tour of California: The Big Picture

by Neil Browne at 8:15 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Through a progression of daily video posts, the official route of the 2010 Amgen Tour of California was finally revealed. Now with the full details of all eight stages we can get a feel of how the race may develop.

The first two stages are designed for the sprinters. While there are some substantial climbs, they are not enough to drop the sprinters entirely. Barring a breakaway surprising the peloton, these two days will be the only opportunity a sprinter will have to wear the race leader’s yellow jersey.  Video presentation of Stages 1 and 2.

Stage three starts in San Francisco and ends in Santa Cruz, and features enough climbs to whittle down the peloton to a select group of overall contenders. This stage includes the Boony Doon climb where Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) laid the groundwork for his overall victory last year.

Stage four will see the climbing begin in the first five miles of the stage, when the riders will take in the ascent of Sierra Road. The road drops down into the valley with numerous twists and turns until it reaches the final climb of the day up Mine Road. The peloton will then descend into downtown Modesto for two finishing circuits.

Video presentation of Stages 3 and 4.

Following stage four, the days become more critical to the battle for overall. With its later start in the year, the Tour of California will now begin to serve up longer and tougher climbs than in previous editions. Organizers have also included a time trial in Los Angeles that has been designed to create bigger time gaps than the race’s traditional time trial venue in Solvang.

The climbing will start in earnest during stage five of the Tour of California. The racers ride out of Visalia and will digest several short, steep climbs, that lead up to the final climb of the day, a 10 percent pitch up China Grade. The day will be capped off with two finishing circuits in Bakersfield and, with four days of racing in the legs, the sharp climb organizers have added will give opportunists a chance for the win. The overall contenders need to be mindful on the climb, since losing a few seconds at this point in the race could be critical.

Stage six has been the stage that everyone had been asking for – a mountain top finish. However, when the details were revealed, it turns out not to be the mountain finish fans might have hoped for. The day begins in Pasadena and will see the riders face more than 12,000 feet of climbing during the 135-mile stage. The route takes the peloton over Angeles Crest Highway, through Crestline and Lake Arrowhead to their final destination of Big Bear. The gradual climb will take the riders to an altitude of 7,000 feet, where a flat six-mile run to the finish will give an opportunity to those who have been popped off the group to chase back on. Despite the chance for recovery near the end, this is still a stage that will show who is a contender and who is a pretender.

Video presentation of Stages 5 and 6.

The penultimate day of the race features a time trial in downtown Los Angeles, and could put the icing on the cake for the race leader. Stage seven will be the longest time trial stage in the history of the Tour of California, and could give defending champion Leipheimer an opportunity to show his abilities against the clock. The previous day’s effort up Big Bear could make the difference on whether the race’s leader can hold onto his advantage.

Traditionally a stage race will save the last day for the sprinters and spectators, but on this occasion stage eight will see the peloton race over a 20 mile circuit four times, with each lap dishing out 1,000 feet of climbing. Look for the leader's team to be on the rivet as they will undoubtedly be attacked from all sides, especially if the time gaps remain small.

Video presentation of Stages 7 and 8.

Without doubt, the 2010 Tour of California will be the hardest edition yet. The overall winner will have to be able to climb with the best, and have the ability to recover well for the time trial after several challenging days in the saddle.

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